Matt's Blog

2014 Oscars: 12 Years Takes Gravity In Technical Knockout

Another Oscars race has come to an end and here’s everything that I think needs to covered…

Oscars Competition

A big thanks to the 76 people who entered my 14th annual Pick The Oscars competition.  I tried to come up with a few tricky categories but in the end, there weren’t a lot of upsets this year.  17 different entrants managed to score 5/6 but only 3 pulled off the perfect score of 6/6.  It seems the hardest category was original screenplay with Her edging out American Hustle.

The three entrants with the 100% result were Rob Eddy, Geraldine Rodriguez and Solo Fogg.  It therefore came down to the tie-breaker question – what would be the age of the person who presented the Oscar for best picture.  Many would have been surprised by the choice – 45-year-old Will Smith.  It turns out Solo Fogg was closest to the mark with his guess of 57.  Solo wins a $100 Amazon voucher for his efforts and it’s worth noting that he won back in 2011 with another perfect score.

Oscar Betting & Tipping

In terms of overall tipping, I can’t really complain.  I managed 20 out of 24 with the misses being best picture, best documentary feature, best foreign language film and best animated short film.  I believe it’s my best effort since The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King swept all and sundry back in 2004.

Did I manage to turn that into a financial gain?  Nope, not quite.  My big bet of Gravity didn’t come off but thankfully Matthew McConaughey’s best actor win helped stem the damage.  I lost $400 on the Oscars which offset the $328 win at the Golden Globes.  If you do the math, that’s an overall loss of $72.  I can’t complain but it continues my mediocre Oscars gambling form…

1996 – profit of $750 – won on Susan Sarandon
1997 – profit of $300 (cumulative profit $1,050) – won on Frances McDormand
1998 – loss of $250 (cumulative profit $800)
1999 – loss of $250 (cumulative profit $550)
2000 – profit of $620 (cumulative profit $1,170) – won on Kevin Spacey and Michael Caine
2001 – loss of $190 (cumulative profit $980) – won on director Steven Soderbergh
2002 – profit of $480 (cumulative profit $1,460) – won on Halle Berry
2003 – profit of $275 (cumulative profit $1,735) – won on Catherine Zeta-Jones and Adrian Brody
2004 – profit of $150 (cumulative profit $1,875) – won on Sean Penn
2005 – profit of $214 (cumulative profit $2,089) – won on Hilary Swank
2006 – profit of $350 (cumulative profit $2,439) – won on Reese Witherspoon
2007 – profit of $1,463 (cumulative profit $3,912) – won on Eddie Murphy at Globes, Alan Arkin & West Bank Story at Oscars
2008 – profit of $268 (cumulative profit of $4,280) – won on Tilda Swinton and the Coen brothers
2009 – profit of $253 (cumulative profit of $4,533) – won on Mickey Rourke & Kate Winslet at Globes, Kate Winslet at Oscars
2010 – loss of $830 (cumulative profit of $3,703)
2011 – profit of $30 (cumulative profit of $3,733) – won on Social Network at Globes, Tom Hooper & King’s Speech at Oscars
2011 – loss of $640 (cumulative profit of $3,093) – won on Jean Dujardin at Oscars
2012 – loss of $850 (cumulative profit of $2,243) – won on Ang Lee at Oscars
2012 – loss of $72 (cumulative profit of $2,171) – won on Matthew McConaughey at Globes and Oscars

Oscar Results

The winners in the major categories were as follows:

Best Picture – 12 Years A Slave
Best Director – Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress – Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Supporting Actress – Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)
Best Original Screenplay – Spike Jonze (Her)
Best Adapted Screenplay – John Ridley (12 Years A Slave)
Best Animated Feature – Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film – The Great Beauty

For the second year in a row, we had a split in the best picture / best director race (which doesn’t happen all that often).  Gravity dominated the technical awards with 6 wins, then added to the collection with its best director prize… but it couldn’t quite take the big one.  12 Years A Slave took best supporting actress, best adapted screenplay en route to the best picture crown.  It’s worth noting that only Cabaret in 1972 won more Oscars (8 in total) without best picture.  Gravity now ranks second on that list.

You’d have to say that Dallas Buyers Club was the night’s other big winner.  It took two acting actors for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.  I’d have never have picked those guys to win an Oscar several years ago.  McConaughey was stuck in formulaic romantic comedies and Leto had taken a break from acting to focus on his music.  The film also won the award for best makeup and hairstyling – preventing Jackass: Bad Grandpa from a surprising/historic victory.

The Aussies couldn’t have asked for much more.  Cate Blanchett won as expected and becomes the first Australian to have won 2 acting Oscars.  She’s just 44 years of age and there’s plenty of time to build on that total.  Catherine Martin took home two Oscars herself for best production design and best costume design on The Great Gatsby.  This gives her 4 in total (she won twice for Moulin Rouge) making her the most honoured Australian in Oscar history.  Beverley Dunn picked up her first Oscar – sharing the production design award with Martin.  That only left 2 Aussies who went home empty handed – David Clayton (who was never going to win visual effects for The Hobbit as it was up against Gravity) and Michael Wilkinson (who’s American Hustle costumes lost to Catherine Martin).

Just as notable as the winners… were the high number of shutouts.  Despite earning best picture nominations, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Nebraska, The Wolf Of Wall Street and Philomena all came away with a blank scorecard.  It’s particularly surprising for American Hustle given it led the nominations with 10 in total (including all 4 acting categories).  Its best chance was in the original screenplay category but in one of the only minor surprises of the night, it was beaten by Spike Jonze’s Her.

Frozen was the night’s only other multiple winner – taking best animated feature and best song.  I remember meeting producer Peter Del Vecho last November at the Australian International Movie Convention and talking about how a Walt Disney Animation Studios production had not won the animated feature Oscar since it was introduced in 2001.  That’s now changed and it was cool to see Peter on stage with his Oscar in hand.  It’s also worth mentioning the win of The Great Beauty in the foreign language film category.  I had a few small issues with the film (would have preferred Denmark’s The Hunt to win) but it’s a visual feast that I’m sure I’ll see again in the near future.

I’m normally fairly forgiving when it comes to Oscar hosts but Ellen DeGeneres was not good.  She tried for a few edgy jokes in her short opening monologue but none were particularly funny.  It didn’t get much better from there.  DeGeneres seemed to spend the rest of the show trying to improvise with members of the audience.  She took selfies with ordered pizza.  Perhaps this was designed to target the show at a younger crowd?  I’m not convinced it worked.  None of the presenters made a mark and John Travolta will forever be remembered for his atrocious pronunciation of the name Idina Menzel.  Could he not read the autocue?  Or did he not go to rehearsals?

Well, that’s it for another year.  The book is closed, the statuettes engraved and in a few months, I’m sure we’ll be speculating as to next year’s winners.  Hopefully my finger is a little closer to the pulse.